Cosmetics giant Maybelline markets Superstay 24 lipstick, which is supposed to be more comfortable, withstand heat and humidity, and go 24 hours without needing a transfer. Some customers decided that, despite the advertising, the lipstick did not last a full 24 hours without transfer; so they sued Maybelline claiming that it had violated various California fraud statutes.

As many lawyers know, California’s consumer fraud statutes have lesser reliance standards. For example, reliance is judged on an objective “reasonable consumer” standard that means plaintiffs often do not have to demonstrate individualized reliance to get a class certified.

So faced with … Continue Reading

Robert Lisk of Alabama was building a fence. So he bought some fence lumber from Lumber One. Three years later (he alleged) he discovered that his lumber was rotting prematurely. He filed a class action against Lumber One, asserting, among other claims, that it had violated Alabama’s Deceptive Trade Practices Act (the ADTPA).

Lumber One moved to dismiss the ADTPA claim, arguing that the statute specifically prohibited class actions. A court in the Northern District of Alabama agreed, and dismissed the case in Lisk v. Lumber One Wood Preserving, LLC, No. 3:13-cv–01402-AKK, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1784 (N.D. Ala. … Continue Reading

 In Rowe v. Bankers Life & Cas. Co., 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 43198 (N.D. Cal. Mar. 29, 2012), Estella Rowe, a senior citizen, bought an equity-indexed deferred annuity. After she did so, she learned that this particular kind of annuity (like most annuities) is not a very good investment.  So she sued her insurance company, alleging that it

conspired with its independent sales agents and others to induce elderly consumers to buy equity-indexed deferred annuities, which, according to Rowe, are unsuitable investment vehicles for anyone over sixty-five years old.

Rowe asserted a cause of action for … Continue Reading

To get lawsuits into court and past preliminary motions, plaintiffs often have to argue some pretty stupid things. They have to argue that they did not know coffee is hot or that they trusted Google Maps directions over their own eyes. Sometimes, to get a class action that far, plaintiffs’ lawyers have to argue that entire populations that dumb, such as when they argue that people did not know that Nutella is fattening. What’s a defense lawyer to do in situations like this?

The Third Circuit has offered some help. The lawsuit, McNair v. Synapse Group, Inc. … Continue Reading

Today, the United States Supreme Court hears oral argument in Concepcion v. AT&T, a case on appeal from the Ninth Circuit concerning whether the Federal Arbitration Act preempts states like California from requiring arbitration clauses to allow for classwide arbitration. (The venerable SCOTUSBlog has an excellent roundup of the issues and briefing.)

I’m not interested in pre-gaming the argument. (Although if I were a betting man, I’d lay odds on the Roberts Court finding in favor of AT&T.) I’m more interested in the rash of stories and op-eds (like this one from Vanderbilt Professor Brian Fitzpatrick) that … Continue Reading

Judge Jack Weinstein is no stranger to class actions; he has decided a number of them over the years. And while no one can deny his inventiveness, he has at times drawn criticism for his predisposition for finding judicial solutions to widespread social problems. Judge Weinstein’s reputation is part of what makes the case of Ramirez v. Dollar Phone Corp so interesting.

The case itself deals with prepaid calling cards — which are most often used by low-income immigrants (because they can use the cards for international calls at relatively low rates).

Plaintiffs’ central allegation was that: "Law enforcement agencies … Continue Reading